The 7 Habits of Highly Effective Project Managers–Habit 2: Begin with the End in Mind

It’s incredibly easy to get caught up in an activity trap, in the busy-ness of life, to work harder and harder at climbing the ladder of success only to discover it’s leaning against the wrong wall. Stephen Covey

1. Introduction to Habit 2: A Call to Leadership rather than Management

Habit 1 was the habit of being proactive, of creating a circle of influence around oneself to help make the project and one’s organization successful. Now that you’ve got this influence, how are you going to use it? Now that you’ve given yourself room to maneuver in, in which direction are you going to go?

Habit 2 deals with creating a mission statement or vision, which is an integral part of leadership of a project or organization. It is using the team’s resources in an effective manner. Once the direction has been established, then it is part of management of the project to go there in an efficient manner.

2. Efficiency vs. effectiveness—the tale of the Helawi tribe

I can explain the difference between being effective and being efficient by means of an old joke told on a comedy series from the 1960s called F-Troop, a humorous take on the Wild West. A young Native American asks his father what the name of the tribe was. The father answered that they are the Helawi tribe. He said to his son that it was funny that he asked that question, because he asked the same question of the chief while they were moving their hunting grounds a while back. The chief was overlooking the landscape, and he looked up distractly from his map and in said “where the hell are we?” The father misheard and thought the chief had said, “we’re the Helawi” and mistook that as the identity of the tribe.

In a similar way, members of your team may identify with their tasks and try to do them efficiently, be as the project manager you must try to be effective and to be like that chief who stops and asks “where the hell are we?” from time to time, and to do that, he needs not a map, but a project charter.

3. The mission statement

An organization should have a mission statement or philosophy that focuses on what the organization wants to be or its character and what it wants to achieve. I like the description in the book by Stephen Covey of our country’s Constitution as being equivalent to its mission statement.

The mission statement or project charter should be centered in the following principles:

Security is your sense of your team or organizations strengths, and the guidance is what you supply as a leader to give direction to the team. Power is derived from the circle of influence described in habit 1 which gives you the capacity to be proactive. It takes the core strengths of the organization and uses them to achieve the project goals you set using your wisdom as a project manager, which is gained from lessons learned on past projects.

In this way, your mission statement will align all of the team members’ activities towards the same direction, and the project itself will align with the strategic goals of the organization.

In the next post on Habit 3, I discuss how to manage the team once you have given them direction as a leader.

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